Venus Nipples

Coming into sight, you rest sleepy and smooth in your dish.
You are globed as a balloon and moist as honey.

Icy with pleasure it seems you have risen to a peak
of perfection, and begun to float so tender and pink,

your whole shape shimmying its delicate foam is not
merely a question of blond hair dressed high as satin

as you lean all of your weight on one hip, against a trellis
piped with tiny rosettes and stars; it is a question of hope.

Will we get a chance to see inside the scalloped skirt
wrapped round you dangled with marzipan sea-shells

fluted heart-shapes, wire baubles and hula hoops?
Will there be snow-dropped ice cream in the shape of tilted ships, large

bulbous domes, towers and spires, clear as a view from
Westminster Bridge? And now there are no cities so breathlessly

lit, no districts so red, no fields of desire so wide.
Has not laughter in the house spoken of it, has not every

chink widened in sympathy and whispered how she rides it
in secret, biting its ears, pressing it between her legs?

But what’s the use of sweating over this kind of thing
as if we were at the movies? Let’s have it for lunch.

Aubrey Beardsley, Lysistrata Shielding Her Coynte, 1896, print, WikiCommons


Martha Kapos’s professional life has brought together both writing and the visual arts. She taught at the Chelsea College of Art in London until 2001 when she joined the editorial team at Poetry London. Her collection My Nights in Cupid’s Palace (2003) was a Jerwood / Aldeburgh Prize winner. Both this and her two subsequent collections, Supreme Beings (2008) and The Likeness (2014) were Poetry Book Society recommendations. The 2019 summer issue of Poetry London was her final issue as Poetry Co-Editor before her retirement.